In the deep

My next book of Ysabel the Summoner is set deep underwater in the realm of mermaids. Their dark world is lit by bioluminescent creatures.

The jellyfish can be gorgeous:

siphonophore Abralia_veranyi Fanfinseadevil viper-fish


This is a siphonophore, a colony of hundreds of jellies living along a central core. The fireworks display are the toxic, bioluminiscent tentacles used to lure and snare prey.



Abralia veranyl looks like an art deco brooch.







There also are scary creatures with gigantic eyes and fanged mouths, opened wide to suck in any passing prey.

Fanfan seadevil




And its friend, the Pacific viperfish.

Perseverance, or do I hafta?

It’s raining heavily this morning. The gutters are overflowing and it sounds like I’m living under a waterfall. I feel hammered by the rain. I can’t focus, my current story feels overworked, and I’m tired of my characters.

I’m experiencing letdown after sending out query letters for Queen of Incense. Five days later, I’ve received one very polite rejection email, but the rest is silence.
I have to keep writing, perseverance is the bulwark against the ennui and depression that follows the completion of a long project.

In his book, a Place in the Country, W.G. Sebold writes about “…the awful tenacity of those who devote their lives to writing.”
But, here’s the payoff: “…the hapless writers trapped in their web of words sometimes succeed in opening up vistas of such beauty and intensity as life itself is scarcely able to provide.”

I slog, I plod, I push my novels uphill, and sometimes I reach a peak where the story flows around me with unforced grace and clarity. Those moments are the reward that turn the struggle into achievement.

Writing authentically

I read a recent Esquire interview with Michael Keaton and was struck by his comment on being authentic, of his efforts to create something original:

“Over the years, I think, people—actors, writers, whatever—lose their frame of reference. Their frame of reference is based on somebody else who did this or did that. Performances. So it just becomes a reflection of what already works. Like a warm-up. And that’s an invitation to be inauthentic. Everything becomes, you know, the work of somebody who did that before. Then somebody becomes a version of a version of a version…I always wanted to be the version. You know, the thing.”

Like Johnny Cash, we’ve been everywhere

We’ve been to:
Florence, Gaston, Forest Grove, Yamhill
Vernonia, Damascus, Gresham, West Linn,
Hillsboro, Yachats, Aurora, North Plains,
Sisters, Milwaukie, Cottage Grove, Lebanon,
Oregon City, Canby, Corbett, Redmond.

We’ve been everywhere. It’s about time to slip on a pair of red shoes, click my heels and proclaim there’s no place like home.

Finding the next home

Finding that next home is not as easy as I thought it would be. I was smart; I researched properties carefully using Zillow, compiled a list that took us to areas within a 30-mile distance to Portland, and off we went.

It’s been a wild chase. We’ve learned that a gentle slope means a steep dropoff, that irrigated farmland is realtor speak for boggy bottom land, a sweeping lawn that was photographed from about 2 inches off the ground is really a tatty little lawn, and that a cute 40’s era house high on a bluff with a great view of the river, is a house that was built too close to the edge of the precipice, with the very real possibility of stepping out of the back door and falling off the 90-foot drop.

It’s been discouraging, but our wanderings have helped us zero in on the areas we like best, and now it’s time to find realtors and get on their drip list.

This moving better happen soon. I’m starting to lose steam for the task; the more times we come home after viewing another unsuitable property, the more I want to stay in my home.